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Jimmy Butler’s interaction with Pat Riley that shows why he’s perfect for Miami

Heat, Pat Riley, Jimmy Butler

From their first meeting in free agency, Jimmy Butler and Pat Riley bonded over their shared love of wine. Over the course of Butler’s first year as a member of the Miami Heat, it’s clear the two have another thing in common: a devotion to winning.

Butler had his most impressive performance since signing with Riley’s Heat on Monday, putting up a career playoff high 40 points on 13-f0r-20 shooting, including multiple clutch buckets and hustle plays on both ends, to lead Miami to a 115-104 Game 1 victory over the Milwaukee Bucks in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference semifinals.

As Butler exited the floor, a team employee directed Butler towards an upper tier section of the arena, where a masked (but seemingly smiling) Riley loomed over the proceedings. The 75-year old recently entered the bubble to watch his team compete in the second round.

“Appreciate you!” Butler said as he pointed up and saluted the Hall of Fame coach and executive.

“You’re making my dreams…” Riley seemed to respond as he pointed back at Butler.

Butler, a unique competitor with high-standards and an elite work ethic, may not be everybody’s cup of tea, but he’s an ideal fit within the culture that Riley and Erik Spoeltra have fostered over the years.

In Game 1, Butler happened to live up to his “Jimmy Buckets” nickname and dominate as a scorer, and Butler said he was encouraged by his teammates to keep shooting. But he re-iterated his desire to win—whatever that may entail.

“For me, it’s my teammates,” Butler said afterwards. “Andre Iguodala’s coming to me: ‘Yo, win the game.’ [Goran Dragic]: ‘Win the game.’ [Duncan Robinson]: ‘Win the game.’ And it’s not about just scoring — it’s about guarding, it’s about making the right play, getting the 50-50 ball. That’s all part of winning the game.”